Museum of Discovery grant | Arkansas Blog

Museum of Discovery grant



The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has awarded a $9.2 million grant to the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock for expansion and renovation including three new interactive exhibits. The museum will have to raise $3.5 million in matching money. Construction includes a new entrance from Clinton Avenue. The entrance now is from the lobby of the Museum Center, an office building that has a number of other tenants including the museum.

The foundation in 2006 gave more than $7 million to support a network of museums and education centers in Arkanas including the Museum of Discovery.

The foundation's assets come from the purchase of the Donrey Media company, started in Arkansas by the late Donald W. Reynolds, by the Stephens family of Little Rock.

Museum of Discovery Receives $9.2 Million to Renovate and Update Facilities

LITTLE ROCK (AR): The Museum of Discovery was awarded a grant of $9.2 million by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to renovate and update its facilities and exhibits.  The grant will allow the Museum of Discovery to build a dramatic new entrance directly on President Clinton Avenue, which will make the museum completely visible and accessible from the street.  The renovation also will create three new galleries of engaging hands-on exhibits.

The current space, established in 1998, is 44,000 square feet and houses permanent and visiting exhibits.  While the footprint of the renovated Museum will not change, the square footage will increase to over 50,000 and will include all new exhibits.  Entertaining new exhibits will explore the physical sciences and the wonder of human life.  There also will be new exhibits on a variety of global earth sciences and environmental issues, many made relevant by their connection to the natural landscapes of Arkansas. In all, the galleries will contain 80-90 hands-on exhibits that incorporate science, technology and math. These interactive exhibits will offer different levels of experience based on the visitor’s age, learning style and knowledge of the subject.

“The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will provide funding for the new entrance and galleries, but the Museum of Discovery needs to ensure its sustainability,” said Nan Selz, Executive Director. “The community has already committed over $926,000 toward the effort and we will continue to seek support for increased and enhanced programming.  We need to raise $3.5 million in addition to the Reynolds grant to make the Museum of Discovery a first-class science center for the children and families of Arkansas.”

The educational impact on the museum and the community will be dramatic.  The new galleries will support life-long science learning by making science, engineering and technology accessible and comprehensible.  Learning will be fun because of innovative, hands-on and interactive exhibits. Programs and exhibits will better equip teachers to help their students meet Arkansas’ Educational Frameworks & National Science Standards.  Also, families will be encouraged to learn together.

The grant was the result of a lengthy planning process that included analysis of every aspect of the Museum’s operations, a statewide survey, focus groups in the local community, input from a science teacher advisory group, consulting with experts in the museum field and visits to other top-notch science and discovery centers around the country.

Museum leaders expect to start renovations at the current facility at 500 President Clinton Avenue in late 2009.  The building will be closed for several months during the renovation, but the Museum’s many community outreach programs will continue.  This includes the Museum’s continued operation of the Arkansas Discovery Network, which is a collaboration of 7 museums and programs that delivers meaningful hands-on learning exhibits and experiences to children statewide. 

In 2007, the Museum served over 95,000 people, including school groups from around the state. 

The Museum of Discovery is an Arkansas not-for-profit corporation recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax deductible charitable organization.  The mission of the Museum is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment. In addition to permanent and travelling exhibits, the Museum offers special events, school programs, outreach programs, birthday parties and facility rentals. The Museum raises support through special events, individual and corporate donations, planned giving, bequests and special campaigns.  To support the Museum of Discovery, contact (501) 396-7050 ext. 212.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

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